By Susan Lesh
A task force of selected Ethical Culture members has been meeting to determine how to safely begin in-person attendance in our Society building at 687 Larch Ave. The task force members are: Richard Bernstein, M.D., Randa Hamadeh, M.D., Mary Matsui, PhD., Daniel Rosenblum, PhD., Eric Sandhusen, Lisa Schwartz, MSW, Rachel Ferat, Perry Stein, David Bland, Joe Chuman, PhD., and myself. At present, we are not planning to hold our main Sunday platform offerings in-person and will revisit this decision no earlier than September 13, 2020.
The task force has determined that we need to look at the demographics of our membership, the physical space of our building, and the ability to adequately ventilate and sanitize the commonly used spaces, including the meeting room, lobby, Sunday School classrooms, and bathrooms.
We rent to the Rhymes and Reasons Early Childhood Center, which re-opened its doors to a limited number of children on June 15. In light of their activity and the presence of teachers, children, and staff, we need to look at how this will impact the interaction of the center with our Society. We need to be mindful of the health and lives of the most vulnerable in our community and in our membership. We need to be mindful of our staff, i.e., not risk their health and well-being.
We want to have the Society’s programs as accessible and inclusive as possible. We are exploring hybrid models, where we can incorporate the popular Zoom technology into our in-person offerings. One option might be to have member meetings and platforms with carefully limited numbers of “in-person” attendees as well as virtual attendance. We are also looking into the Centers for Disease Control and NJ Department of Health guidelines for cleaning, disinfecting, screening, appropriate physical distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE), and looking to see where to source and what we can supply to people who will be attending.
Currently, all staff and members have limited or no access to the building. We are keeping track of which member is in the building to reduce the amount of contact. Rhymes and Reasons is remaining in their rented space. We are exploring limited outdoor in-person activities, including some Ethical Enrichment programs and informal, small-group gatherings. The task force is continuing to meet and will be informing the membership as circumstances develop.
Susan Lesh is president of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County.